Looking Forward to the Coming Week and Back at the Past + an MLK, Jr. Message

The first week of the legislative session was very slow, giving us time to get ready. Week II is already rolling with 4 MUST PASS bills going to hearings on Tue. and Wed., with more hearings for our bills certainly to be announced each afternoon. This post includes a Roundhouse Update, links to last week’s posts and thoughts on what MLK, Jr. might tell us today about our struggle for justice,

Today’s post covers a good deal of ground.  A very brief Roundhouse Update, a well-crafted guest blog projecting what MLK, Jr. might want to tell us today and since I so much want everyone to see the video of Greta, I have included it at the bottom of this post. At 15, she is speaking to the international climate change conference in Poland before thousands of climate science experts, advocates, and government officials from around the world. And talk about fearlessly speaking truth to power. Such poise, such purpose, such clarity.

Finally, as is our habit on Monday’s we provide links and brief summaries for the past week’s blogs. We feel that this is an opportunity for you to share our work with others, your friends, your church group, your Ward, or formal and informal groups of advocates. I’ve said this many times, to achieve justice, our concerned readers simply must assume the role of strategic activist, looking for opportunities to share good information and get those they know looped into action. And the posts from last week have both national and statewide scope and represent well, what Retake tries to do: engage, educate, organize and activate.  Read on.

Roundhouse Update.  While this blog will continue to report on Roundhouse activities, Roundhouse alerts will be more thoroughly shared with members of our Statewide Response Network. If you want alerts about when you should go to the Roundhouse because you care about women’s rights, the planet, or our failing education system and you want to know more about the bills being considered at the Roundhouse that might advance justice, you simply must join the Network. That is its purpose and it is time consuming and duplicative to share the same info here as we share through the Network. That Network is perfectly suited to informing you when and how to advocate for specific bills working through the Roundhouse. This blog examines issues of national and state scope, but in more depth. I think the summaries of last week’s posts illustrate that.

Just know that starting Tuesday, we have four MUST PASS bills going to Committee hearings, three of those bills will be heard on Wednesday in one committee (see below). Most of our bills will have to be voted on by four committees, two House, two Senate. At any point in the committee hearing process, years of work by our allies to develop and push these bills could die due to a single Democrat voting with the GOP OR, more often, a Committee chair, all Democrats, failing to put a bill on the agenda of the next committee where the bill must go. Last Tuesday’s post described how this process works and cited six very good bills, killed in Democratically controlled Senate Committees, and in each instance without a vote. Another example is cited illustrating how legalization of marijuana was killed in 2017 and how it may face the same fate this year, again at the hands of Democratic Senators.

The alerts about bills come from the Network. Deeper analysis can be found here.  But by way of preview, if you care about minimum wage, if you care about ditching the Electoral Congress, if you care about restoring rights to felons, and if you care about campaign finance fixes and exposing dark money’s influence on politics, these bills will be in the Roundhouse committees Tuesday and Wednesday….and who knows what the rest of the week will bring?  If you want to know what the rest of the week brings, join the network by clicking here.

Three of our MUST PASS bills will be heard in the committee below. at 7:45am, Susan McGrew, one of our Roundhouse Coordinators will be outside the mail room with one-page flyers for each bill. She will also have Retake Our Democracy buttons for you to wear and she will brief you on how to provide comment and otherwise support these bills. You won’t often get a chance to support three great bills in one hearing, so if you were planning to come to the Roundhouse during the session, this would be a good day to do so. To date seven of our MUST PASS bills have been summarized and by Wednesday we will have posted one-pagers for most all of our bills that have been introduced. We are still awaiting introduction of the Health Security Act, the recreational marijuana bill and a tax credit and child care bill that benefit working families. But the MUST PASS bill page lists the bills currently considered MUST PASS. This list will grow somewhat as we consider other new bills introduced in the last week or so and ones yet to be introduced.

1/23, House State Government, Elections, and Indian Affairs Committee:   Wednesday, January 23, 2019 – 8:30 A.M. – Room 305


A Look Back at Last Week’s Posts

The posts this past week are very important, so if you didn’t have time to review them, all I encourage you to do save this email and return to it when you have time. You will find:

  • Evidence of how the NM State Senate has routinely killed some very good bills, often without a vote,
  • Examination of the contrast between the traditional, stodgy Congressional approach to real national emergencies and the urgency with which AOC and many of her newly elected Blue Wave Democrats;
  • How Roundhouse leadership was lectured on the dangers of climate change and the need for an urgent response, along with the usual GOP response. We also include inspiring words from Kathleen Dean Moore and SueEllen Campbell and a remarkable 2-minute video (at the bottom of the post) of Greta, a 15-year old Swedish girl testifying in Poland.

So there is much to review and much to share. I ask that you consider sending this post to 4-5 friends and ask them to subscribe to the blog by going to retakeourdemocracy.org and clicking the subscribe button on the right. Sharing this information with friends is how we build our base and it is up to you to be the strategic activist and help spread the word and build the power.

Roundhouse Opens Today with New Mexico Voices for Children Youth Day

Tuesday, Jan. 15.  We’ve been planning for many months for the legislative session and it begins today .As NM Voices for Children has declared: “It is time to go bold, or go home.” We couldn’t agree more. Today we focus on NM Voices and the Governor’s plans for K-12 education, a bad sign for recreational marijuana, and other key bills for which we will be advocating. The post also includes an analysis of how many good bills have been killed in Senate committees, rarely with a vote, but simply by not having bills put on the agenda for a hearing. You will be very surprised by the number of really great bills that have simply died without a whimper. It points to the critical need for advocacy. It points to the critical need to build strong bases of constituents in at least 8-9 Senate Districts. It points to the need for a Statewide Rapid Response Network.  .Click here to review the full post. To join the Network, click here.

Ocasio-Cortez Rebuffed by Democratic Leadership & Surprsingly, Grassroots Activists Offer Criticism, As Well, Plus Roundhouse Update 

Thursday, Jan. 17. AOC’s response to mostly gentle criticism from the Dem leadership and activists is spot on. Every day, we hear Democratic leadership asking AOC to take her time; every day AOC’s response is that the urgency of the moment does not call for moderation.  And her response to criticism from activists is perfect. The post also describes Gabe Ramos’ appointment to replace Morales in the Senate, how Gov. Lujan Grisham had little choice in making the selection, and why it is a problem. On Thursday we heard that that ALL gun bills will be heard on one Saturday, althogh this has not been confirmed. The chaos begins. Women’s March Saturday details.  Click here to read the full post.

Blunt Climate Change Message Given to Roundhouse Legislators.  GOP Leadership Is Unmoved. We Have a Response

Friday, Jan 18.  The GOP may not be willing to fight for our planet, but Kathleen Dean Moore and SueEllen Campbell had the most powerful list of reasons to fight for this planet that I have ever read. I am sending it to Rep. Townsend (done, no response) who was unimpressed by yesterday’s expert testimony to the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Click here to read the full post.

Rep. Townsend Asked: What Can a Small State Do About Climate Change. Our Readers Offered Some Ideas.

Saturday, Jan 19.  For weeks Retake has been focused on tomorrow…as in the next few days in preparation for the Legislative Session. Today we focus on a more distant tomorrow, asking you to think about and comment about what NM can do about climate change. We include reader comments from yesterday’s blog, a video from a 15-year old activist and more from Kathleen Dean Moore. Click here to read the full post.

Guest Post on What MLK, Jr. Might Tell Us Today

If you where the Retake button and you engage people in conversation about our work, even if you don’t know that person, you may be surprised. I met Anthony Fleg in line waiting to get into the opening session of the Roundhouse. Anthony is a family physician with the Native Health Initiative.  We chatted about our work. I mentioned our blog, he mentioned that he writes and then he offered to write a guest post. Four days letter, this arrived in my in box.His words are appropriate to today’s being MLK, Jr. Day and to our discussion in the last two posts and on last Saturday’s radio show: Why do we persist?  And here, Anthony suggests how MLK, Jr. would that we do so.

As the third Monday in January approaches each year, I often pause to take an MLK perspective on the moment. Not simply to reflect, but to respond to MLK’s message as we translate it to the present.

After opening day at the legislature this week––where pre-schoolers sang proudly from the Rotunda and Governor Lujan-Grisham laid out an ambitious agenda, an antidote to the rhetoric from the White House and the dysfunction of Washington––I am hopeful again. Hearing about raising our “poverty wage” of $7.50 per hour to $12, along with significant funding increases to early childhood education and to our state’s teachers, the physician in me smiled, knowing the best health policy is policy that addresses injustices and moves us toward equity.

In a political system that values corporations and their shareholders over our most fragile and marginalized populations and our planet in crisis, I hope that our state’s leadership can reverse course in a dramatic way over this legislative session and in the years to come.

On the way home from the Roundhouse, my 7-year-old questioned, “Is 6% going to make a difference?” referring to Lujan-Grisham’s pledge to increase teacher salaries.

“It’s a start,” I responded, reminding him of the teachers at his school who have taken on second jobs just to pay the bills.

He continued, “Is $12 an hour enough for minimum wage?”

Again, my reply: “It’s a start.”

Ditto for taking a number 2 pencil and crossing out PARCC, for supporting a robust green/clean energy economy, and for building up community policing as we look to find answers for a corrections system that is rarely corrective.

I am hopeful that our state’s legislators can work across political differences to seize the moment, as Lujan-Grisham urged, and just as Civil Rights Activists did in Montgomery, Selma, Birmingham and other cities of the South.

As someone weary of the hate-filled, racist, phobic-of-all rhetoric from the White House, I think of Dr. King’s last evening on this earth, April 3rd, 1968, when he stood before sanitation workers in Memphis who were striking due to poor wages and unsafe working conditions. In his speech that evening, a tired King who had seen a Memphis march the week before erupt in violence from both protestors and police, said this to the crowd, “We’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point…we’ve got to see it through.”

Yes, indeed. Our children are too precious to lose hope. Our sacred land and planet are worth struggling for, worth refusing to give in to greed and its companions that push us toward ecological destruction. Our brothers and sisters who are caught in “systems” that are designed to see them fail are worth giving ourselves to the struggle. For those who are criminalized by their addictions or those in our profit-centered sick-care system who are left out in the cold, we cannot give up.

Moreover, I implore us to press on and do the service, the advocacy, the healing from a place of love. The prescription might look like this: take medicine in small doses initially, starting with an outpouring of love to yourself and your wounds. That includes tough love: “How am I complicit with the systems that push too many New Mexicans toward poverty, a poverty wage, a sub-standard education, racism on a daily basis?” Then, share this healing medicine with your family, your block, your community. Give and take love with daily doses of hope, of spiritual strength, of self-care; avoid co-medicating with fear, hatred, and all of the forces that created this mess we find ourselves in (lest we become victims of the very injustices we are working to address).

Dr. King, I agree wholeheartedly–– we have got to give ourselves to the struggle. Not just in what we do with our lives, but in how we do it. From a heart-centered place, let us stand for what we do believe in, not defining ourselves by what and who we are against. In giving ourselves to the struggle, let us dream constantly of what an equitable society looks like–– a state of being where all humans and the earth that sustains us are treated as sacred.

Brothers and Sisters, let’s begin the healing work.

Anthony Fleg

Anthony Fleg is a family physician with the Native Health Initiative, a love-grounded partnership to address health inequities (www.lovingservice.us), and a faculty member at the University of New Mexico.

Categories: Personal & Collective Action, Social & Racial Justice & Immigration Reform

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